December 27, 2021 2:59:56 pm
In an interview with The Indian Express, senior NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Fauzia Khan spoke about issues related to national and state-level politics. Khan, who is a former minister of Maharashtra, also expressed concern about the feeling of alienation felt by many in the minority communities over alleged efforts made to divide the nation on religious grounds.
Q. While everyone talks about a united opposition, on ground we have not seen that happening. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as dead. What is the stand of the NCP and especially that of the party supremo Sharad Pawar on this and is he making efforts to bring the opposition under a single roof?
A: Mr Pawar has been very clear from day one that the BJP can only be defeated if the opposition is united. A Congress-less opposition shall not be very practical and such declarations would only help the BJP consolidate their hold on electoral politics. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had protested against the TMC’s stand on this and our party holds the same stand as his. Mr Pawar is making efforts to unite the opposition – his personal relations spreading across parties, he is the right person to do so. As for the details on how is that being done, I am not sure but talks and meetings are probably on.
Q. The Centre proposed the bill with the aim to raise the age of marriage for girls to 21 years. There is a lot of opposition to this. What is your stand on this? Also is this another effort to communalise the issue?
A: To me, this move by the government is just an eye wash to project themselves as champions of women’s rights. In the rural heartland, marriages are solemnized early for various reasons. Just by raising the age of marriage, how is the government about to bring about any great change in the status of women on ground. Where are the schools, colleges and employment opportunities for women? Where are the skill development institutes which can make women job ready? Instead of doing anything concrete, this move will just create more confusion. As for the second part of the question, I do not know how this will be divisive, but going by the BJP ideology, all efforts are and will be made by the BJP to do so.
Q. You are a prominent minority leader from the party and the state. During your interaction with the community, what is the feeling you get?
A: There is a lot of fear and uncertainty among the community over their dignity, safety and security. The prime minister goes to assuage fears, but then a conference in Haridwar openly talks about violence against minorities. We have seen in Harayana how the issue of offering Namaz has become a political hot potato. People can easily read between the lines. When I talk to the community members, most of them are fearful. Infact, good families who can afford, are leaving India and migrating abroad for safety. They are migrating to countries like Canada. Those who can’t are fearful and uncertain about their future.
Q. BJP has a distinct cadre base which works on ideology. Many of them have dedicated their lives for the party and the cause. On the other hand, the opposition seems to lack that. Why is that and is your party doing anything to address this?
A: Yes, I agree that the BJP has a strong advantage, when it comes to on ground workers or cadre. It is because religion naturally has a strong, instinctive, emotional appeal for human beings. On the other hand, people who profess secularism or advocate the same do not have this advantage, as this is always emotionally tamer of the two. We need to educate people on better human values, on ground and to join them to the cause of broader principles of secularism and tolerance. Ironically, every religion propagates good human values but people are not attracted to the good side of religion. As a political party, we need to relook into how we engage with people and work. NCP has started work on that. We are engaging with intellectuals to bring them on a broader platform. But this will take time as such transformation in mindset can’t happen immediately.
Q. A lot has been said about AIMIM and its political policies. Yet, they seem to have got hold of the minority vote bank. What is your take on this?
A: As I mentioned earlier, the politics of some parties with a right-wing ideology is definitely emotive and that’s why it is caught with popular imagination. Such parties try to encash the same and are there on both sides. Their ideological principles are the same and they mutually benefit one another, for sure.
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